is having a ginormous fat peen a deal breaker for you? yano cuz u short
Anonymous looked up at the sky, not trusting the colour smeared upon the horizon. Horizons could be misleading, they knew. Horizons could convince you it was still daylight, even when the whole of the sky arced above you in a sprawl of midnight. Looking forward was not always enough. Sometimes, you had to look up.
Directly above Anonymous, the moon cut its teeth into the clouds, drawing blood and bruising the darkness with its waxen light, waning at the edges. It was time.
They did not have long. The witch had told them, as she reluctantly handed them the bag of herbs, that the spell would only be useful for the minute or so that the moon was at its highest. The minute was upon them.
Fifty five seconds left.
Cursing themself for having lost track of time, Anonymous reached into their trouser pocket and pulled out the little drawstring bag. With hands shaking in anticipation, they emptied the contents into the small well they’d dug into the earth all those hours ago, and covered it back over with dirt. Fingers crossed behind their back, they stepped away and waited.
It did not happen immediately. Magic takes time, the witch had said. Magic does not come to you when you ask for it; it comes to you when it’s good and ready. You can cast all the spells you like, scatter all the herbs and make all the offerings, but magic cannot be summoned - only tempted.
The seconds ticked by, and Anonymous waited.
This had been a long time coming, they reflected. They had waited too long for the taste of power on their lips. They had been too long distant from how it felt to be in control. They had learnt too early their place in the world, and they had too soon come to rue it. The chasm between want and have had grown inexorably bigger since the day they were born, and now they were here.
The mound of earth did not move. Anonymous thought about the time they had first felt insignificant - the first time they had realised that they stood small in the face of all things - and counted the seconds.
With ten seconds left before the spell died, the magic came.
Magic has no face, has no body. It takes no form and it holds no weight. The witch had told Anonymous this herself. Magic simply is; it is because no other word will do, but it is not. It cannot be, and has never been, and yet it is.
When Anonymous thought about it, it was all rather complicated.
Best, then, not to think at all. Best to give voice to thought and make it speech.
Anonymous cleared their throat and began.
“I suppose you’re wondering why I summoned you here - ”
I was not summoned.
They flushed, the soundless sound surprising them even though they had been expecting it. Do not fear the voiceless voice, the witch had warned. It speaks, and is silent. The words are only half your own.
Breathing slowly, they tried again.
“No, of course not. Sorry. I’m not - I haven’t used magic before.”
And you still have not. I am not here to be used. Say what you would have, and I will do the same. This is not a service. This is a trade.
“Right. Yes. Sorry.” They inhaled, exhaled. This was the only chance they would have to resolve the conflict that had been the shape of all their life. This was the resolution of aporia; of feeling as though they deserved everything, yet having nothing. Of knowing that they should be free, but being everywhere in chains. Of wanting, and of not having. “I want to feel powerful.”
In what sense? Power is not all-encompassing. The queen ant is powerful to the workers, but weak to the heel of the boot. What power would you hold? Do you seek to command nations, or to master the arts, or to take another as your own?
Anonymous considered how best to formulate their response before replying. Precision was key here. The witch had made it clear that magic would grant you what you asked, whether or not it was exactly what you wanted.
“I’m tired of being silent,” they said eventually. “I’m tired of being unable to say whatever I want. I’m sick to the teeth of thinking all these thoughts - great thoughts, too; thoughts that could topple cities and part seas - and being forced to keep them to myself, all because other people think that their own feelings are more important. Well, what of my feelings? What of feeling inadequate? What of the weight of being told to keep silent? Do they know what that does to a person?”
As they spoke, they could feel their heartbeat rise, pumping and roaring in their ears, in their veins. “Sorry,” they added. “I’m getting carried away. But to answer your question - I want to have the power to speak my mind.”
In all things?
They contemplated it. “Yes. In all things.”
The silence was real for a few moments before it became illusion.
I can help you.
“And will you?”
Yes. It will require exchange, however.
At these words, Anonymous could hardly contain their excitement. “Anything. I’ll give you anything.” They took their purse out from their other pocket, and held it out towards the mound. “I have money. I have a house, too, but that’s back in town. You mightn’t like it there. My neighbours - ”
I would have your face.
Anonymous faltered. “My what?”
Your face. That is my offer. I will give you unlimited and unprecedented power to speak your mind. All thoughts you have will be given voice, and you will never again be forced to turn away from speaking aloud what you have always been taught to keep silent. In return for this extraordinary power, I would take from you your face, and in so doing I would give myself form and body. You would never again be silent; I would never again be invisible.
“But wouldn’t I suffer without a face? How would anyone know that it was me who was speaking?” Anonymous asked, wringing their hands around their purse.
I have named my payment. Now I would name my price. The price of this power is thus: the knowledge that all thoughts you give voice to will be dampened by your lack of face. That everything you ever say to another will be tempered by your lack of identity. That no-one will again know whose thoughts you speak; only that you do speak, and in all things.
There was nothing for it. They would have to decline. They could not accept these terms. What power came at such a price, after all? What king had ever ruled his country with no name or face? What lover had ever made another theirs with no identity?
All the times they had been asked to hold their tongue; all the times they had been scolded for speaking their mind; all the times they had uttered the wrong words at the wrong time and had suffered for it: all this had been for nothing.
Although, Anonymous admitted to themself, the thought did appeal on one front, and one front alone. It was undeniable that a certain freedom was gained by completely giving up one’s identity. After all, who could be held accountable for a deed when the deed was done by one with neither name nor face? Who would they scold when the words that were given were not the words that were wanted? Who would suffer when the things said were not things that people wanted to hear?
Only those who heard them, of course, and not the one who spoke them.
And immediately, ashamedly, wonderfully, the decision was already made, had perhaps been made years ago.
“It’s a deal.”
You agree to the payment and price?
“I do. Take my face, and give me the power I seek.”
The deal is struck.
And then the moon, which had begun to falter at its peak, was suddenly once more at its highest. The minutes had been returned.
Hand trembling, Anonymous reached up to touch their face, only to find that, of course, there was no face. Where their image had been - the folds of their mouth, the curve of their nose - was now smooth and featureless. There was nothing there at all.
“Are you happy?” came a voice from behind them.
Anonymous whirled around, and came face to face with their own face, worn by another. “Who are you?” they asked, and a thrill chased up their spine at the realisation that there was no fear behind these words at all. Their voice did not falter. The question was biting, crystalline.
“I am Magic,” replied the impostor, “given form by our deal. Is it to your satisfaction?” It cocked its head inquisitively, Anonymous’ old eyes seeking validation in their new setting, and Anonymous felt powerful. They were looking at their old self - their weaker, voiceless self - and they were free.
Anonymous drew a deep breath in before responding. “is having a ginormous fat peen a deal breaker for you?” they asked.
Magic blinked. “I don’t understand.”
“yano,” continued Anonymous, “cuz u short.”
“Why are you saying that?” asked Magic, eyes darting left to right in placid uncertainty. “I don’t understand. I gave you what you wanted. You could say anything you wanted, and no-one would ever hold you accountable. You could take a lover with intricately crafted sonnets, bend ears with your scintillating rhetoric, and yet you choose - ”
“is having a ginormous fat peen a deal breaker for you? yano cuz u short,” interjected Anonymous, feeling giddy and drunk with power.
Magic blinked again. “You have the choice of a thousand languages, billions of words - ”
“is having a ginormous fat peen - ”
“Sometimes,” Magic interrupted, “silence is the more powerful weapon after all. I could undo what I have done, but I think it best not to bother. Some people will never learn. I wish you luck with all things, and may you one day find your power useful, for it will not aid you in the pursuit you have chosen.”
With that, Magic was gone, and Anonymous’ face was lost to them forever. Now alone, Anonymous looked gleefully at the small mound of earth that had been their salvation. They thought of all the things they would say tomorrow, and they smiled.
At least, they would have smiled, had they been able.
Far away, Magic rolled its new eyes, and decided to write a sonnet.
WARNING- SMUT AHEAD- IF THAT’S NOT YOUR THING, CLICK AWAY ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡ Request-can you write an imagine where Y/N and Theo are in detention and the teacher leaves them in the library and they have sex and are caught by Stiles? ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡ I sighed as I walked into the Library. I had detention because of Theo, big surprise. He wouldn’t leave me alone in math class and when I tried to tell the teacher that is was all Theo, he wouldn’t have it. It was the first time I’ve ever had detention and I got it because Theo was messing with me. Theo and I have a love, hate relationship. We tease each other, make fun of one another and call each other names but as soon as one of us is hurt, the other I by their side comforting them or protecting them. I wasn’t entirely sure what Theo and I were, friends of enemies but I knew that I have some feelings for him on some level. I wasn’t sure if it was emotional or physically but they feelings were there. “Oh course you showed up, Miss Goody Goody.” Theo said as he spotted me walking in, he was already sitting at one of the tables, the teacher shooting Theo a glare to be quiet. I just took a deep breath before I handed the teacher my detention slip so that he could sign it once the hour was up. I sat down at a table that was far away Theo, just wanting to be focused on my work that I brought to do and get through this hour in one piece. About twenties minutes into detention, a phone started to ring, I knew it wasn’t my ringtone, I looked over at Theo who was looking at me and pointing to the teacher. I looked at the teacher who pulled his phone out of his pocket, looking at the caller ID and clearing his throat, Theo and I both chuckled had now nervous he was, as if he was the one in detention and not the teacher watching us. “I have to take this. Behave.” He said, walking out of the Library, leaving me and Theo alone with one another. I glanced over at Theo who was already looking me up and down, causing me to blush slightly and look away. A few seconds later, I heard Theo’s chair move on the floor, I glanced over to see him pacing around the tables that were set up on the lower level of the library. “We aren’t supposed to be walking around, sit down Theo. Im not letting you get me in trouble again.” I said while staring down at my math homework, less than a second later I felt a breath on the back of my neck, causing me to tense. I heard Theo chuckle from behind me as his hands rested on the table, his breath still on my neck. I didn’t say anything, I was just trying to ignore it. I felt it best not to feed into Theo’s antics. When he realized, I wasn’t paying attention to him, he pulled all my hair to one side and kissed up the back of my neck slowly, making me shiver. I let out a deep sigh before I shook it off, getting turned on right now would not be the best timing. Theo continued to kiss up my neck, reaching my ear and letting out a breathy chuckle. “Theo, stop.” I whispered out, only causing him to smiled into my ear. We both knew I didn’t want him to stop but what can I say, I just didn’t want to get in trouble again. “Come on, (Y/N). Don’t tell me that you haven’t thought about it. I think about it, a lot, especially with you.” He said causing me to slam my math book shut and stand up from my seat and face him. I was attracted to Theo and right now it was purely physically, our flirting being a part of our love, hate thing that we had going. “Of course, I’ve thought about it.” I said sitting on the table, unsure of what I was going to say or where this was going to go. I felt Theo take a step closer to me, him now standing in between my legs. He placed one hand on my face, cupping my cheek and forcing me to look up at him. “Then what’s the problem?” He asked causing me to really think about it. To tell you the truth, it would be hot, having sex in the Library, with Theo. Maybe, Theo was right, maybe I was being a goody goody. Maybe, I needed to take a chance. “There isn’t one.” I said, pulling him towards me by his shirt, his hands gripping my outer thigh that was exposed from wearing shorts. He smirked into the kiss, at the deepened. I had to admit, Theo was hot and I was beyond hot and bothered because of him. With every passing second, it got more headed, his hands traveling up and down my body, slipping under the back of my shirt so his hands would touch my back, sending chills down my spine. His hands eventually made their way to the front to my shirt, groping my boobs slightly, needing them together, making me bite his lip and let out a slight moan. I could feel myself getting hotter, Theo was showing me nothing but attention. He wanted me as much as I wanted him and that only made it hotter. Theo was about to take my shirt off but I shook my head and broke the kiss. I looked at the time and saw that the teacher would be back any second. “No time.” I breathed out as I began to undo Theo’s pants. He just chuckled and began to unbutton my shorts. The way things were going, there was going to be a round two or three at some point, hell it might become a regular thing but at this moment, we didn’t have a lot of time for foreplay. “I like you like this, turned on. You must really like me huh?” He asked as I pulled his pants down to his knees as he did the same, expect my shorts came all the way off seeing as I was sitting down. I moved closer to the edge of the table and Theo looked at me. It was the first time since this all started that he looked unsure. Maybe this wasn’t all physically for him, like he acts. Maybe it was more than that. It was my turn to cup Theo’s face, kissing his lips softly, just a peck, reassuring him that I wanted this too. He took my kiss as an answer, pushed my panties to one side and pulled down his boxers. It wasn’t my first time having sex but it was my first time was Theo so it was just as nerve racking as if it was my first time. Before I knew it, Theo pulled me all the way to the edge of the table and trusted into me. I let out a loud gasp, not expecting it to feel so different from the first time I had sex. Theo was bigger than the last guy I was with and the situation itself was hotter but maybe it was just Theo that made it amazing. With every trust, Theo let out a moan, my legs wrapping tightly around him, trying to get all of him inside of me. My nails digging into his back, only making him go faster and harder. I could feel myself getting close and by how Theo’s thrusts were starting to get slopping, I knew he was almost there. “Come on, baby.” He whispered in my ear, making me let out a loud moan and gasp, throwing my head back in pure ecstasy, Theo following me seconds later. The room was filled with panting and groans of pleasure, I heard the doors squeak open and another groan, but not of sexual nature. “In the Library?! Oh, you guys are so disgusting. Now I owe Isaac ten bucks!” I heard Stiles say, causing Theo and I both to burst into laughter as the embarrassed boy left. Theo and I looked at each other for a second before he pulled out of me, and we pulled apart, just enough to get settled back into our clothes. Theo kissed me softly, one last time before we heard the doors open, this time the teacher walking back into the Library. Theo ran back over to his seat as I sat back down in mine. The teacher knew something was different but he didn’t question what it was, the rest of the time, Theo and I shared glances and texted each other from under the table, both of our phones on silent. I didn’t know if Theo and I would ever do that again but I did know that detention, was hot.
Six months after graduating from Tulane University, Sadie Neal is on a one-way trip to Buffalo, New York to start her first real, big girl job with the local professional hockey team, the Buffalo Sabres. The problem? Sadie knows next to nothing about hockey. They use pucks, not balls. They wear skates, not cleats. And they play on ice, not grass. That’s it. How is she supposed to represent them on social media when she doesn’t even know what icing means outside of baking?
Louis Tomlinson (#91 / RW) is coming off a career high season (79 games, 20 goals, 30 assists, 50 total points) that he’s trying to recreate. The goal: Lord Stanley’s Cup. There’s a magic in the locker room that feels like it could be their year. He stays focused by keeping hockey and his personal life separate. Everyone knows that.
Do you have any advice for quick but effective characterization without making it feel like I'm just cramming in character details? I'm planning a project where I basically have a ton of characters (31 now) in one setting and I tell mostly one-off stories featuring each of them, but I'm worried either they'll seem underdeveloped or the stories will be so full of characterization there's no room for anything else. It is gonna be character-driven, but there still should be some plot and setting!
I just sent an ask about ensemble casts and hit the character limit before I could add this, but I love your blog and I really appreciate you for filling it with such good advice and inspiration, and also for being by far the most approachable writing blog I follow! You’re very friendly and helpful and have great taste and it’s awesome!
fhsklasuhleaiwhsng Well then. If that doesn’t make a writer smile, I don’t know what will. Thanks, Anon, that’s a very good thing to hear, since approachable is exactly what I strive for here. Now, you’ve given yourself a doozy, but don’t be too discouraged. There are ways, but you’re going to have to be willing to work on them. They often don’t come naturally to us. Let’s think about this a bit:
You want your characters to be distinct. They should be recognizable and memorable, leaving a lasting impression on your readers about who they are as a person, and the kinds of things they deal with in their life. How can we get across to our readers in short, concise, camouflaged ways that these are full, round, complete characters with a wealth of experiences and background and stories behind them, without actually putting all of those experiences and background information and stories right out there on the page in huge dumps? That’s the hope, right? That readers are able to walk away from a story with the distinct impression that there’s a lot more to this character than what they’ve just read, right? I think so. How can we portray that?
Make it clear they’re good at stuff, but also bad at other stuff. Show your readers what this character is made of! By virtue of being human, they won’t be gloriously fantastic at everything, but their past will lend them at least some skill with other things. Showcase those. Make sure there are moments in your stories that allow your character to shine, and other times when they’re allowed to fail spectacularly. Those failures or successes don’t have to be big, grand, plot-informing moments, but having a character choose a dagger instead of a sword during training will tell your audience things about how they grew up and what they’re naturally comfortable with. Having them struggle with lighting a fire but being able to mix salves and bind wounds will inform your readers of all kinds of minuscule background details as well as personality ones without the need to come out and say, “Baldric always took care of others first and himself last.” Let those moments shine briefly, even if they’re not plot-crucial.
Let them reference stuff when they talk. Everybody does it. During conversation, someone says something and it reminds us of something else, and we say things like, “That happened to me once. I mean, not the mouse thing; it was an iguana for me,” and, “Tell me about it. My sister once sat on the lid of a trunk in the middle of summer because she thought it was funny.” The key to characterization is remembering that you don’t have to go in depth and tell the whole thing for it to be effective. It’s okay to let your readers imagine what the rest of that story could be.
Your narrator is your best friend. Your narrator is there for exactly these kinds of things. Maybe showing isn’t conducive to the story and you need to do a little telling. No problem. Narrator to the rescue. Again, remember that short and to-the-point is key. Don’t mention things that aren’t relevant to what’s happening at the moment, but if there is something that adds to the reader’s understanding of the moment, feel free to briefly reference it using the narrator. “Gerret didn’t remember a time the Matron hadn’t stood her ground against the Legion. He got the distinct impression she cared more about the gods than the crown.”–and then move on. Little character details and backstory can be interwoven with current events as long as you put it in the lens of your point of view and you don’t dwell on it very long.
Additionally, when you’re trying to imply relationships the were built up before the events of the story–friends who’ve known each other for a long time, sibling rivalries, whatever kind of relationship–the way your characters interact with one another will tell the audience a heck of a lot. A character ruffling the hair of another is immediately a signal of affection without ever having to say, “The two infantrymen had been friends four years, two of which saw them in the midst of blood and battle.” Take advantage of the interactions that carry background connotations and let them do some of the speaking for you.
I’m just going to leave this here, too: Know what you’re okay with your readers not knowing about a character. Just think about it.
Texture building, my friend, that’s what I call all these little, short mentions you can slip in here and there–little details that don’t need more than a sentence or two to divulge and help give the readers impressions of grander things out there and behind your characters. It’s hard, unnatural even, and takes a bit of practice. Don’t fret if it’s not until editing stages that you’re really able to get those moments into shape. If your first draft is full of info-dumps, that’s okay. Getting it out on the page so that you can understand exactly what you’re trying to portray is helpful, too. Do what you need to do to get a good feel for what you want to include to help readers see the depth. Sometimes those crucial details don’t show themselves until you’ve already written the info-dump.
Good luck, writer, and thanks again for your kind words. -Pear
A little tour through the interior of the Palais Garnier. Including:
A shot from the stage into the auditorium. (And the other way round)
A short visit to one of the boxes. It’s not not box five, but as far as I know the view from box 5 has to be the same, because the box shown is just on the opposite side of the auditorium. Therefore, you have a short glance at box 5, too. (Around 1.13 min.)
The costume storage room.
A visit to the cellar, including a short shot of the underground lake.
A shot from the rooftop
This film is not made by me. Just wanted to share it with you.
It had been a number of days since Galahad first fallen outside of Silver’s house. Since he sort of made her home his own as well. But he still only had the items he’d arrived with. He was managing, but has been forced to spend quite a few hours sitting in his room completely naked as his clothes washed.
So he chose the morning of that day to make a quick trip back to his home world, and pick up a number of things. He got up quite early that morning, late enough that the sky was beginning to brighten, but early enough that the sun hadn’t actually rose yet. It would take quite a bit of energy to get back, and he needed to make sure he was ready.
That morning was spent eating, meditating, and altogether preparing himself for that journey. He tried to keep from making very much noise, as Silver, at least, was still asleep. But he couldn’t help the occasional clatter of his armor plates against each other.
And it was that clatter that woke Silver up. She got out of bed and walked out of her room, to find Galahad all dressed up in his armor. She herself was just wearing some casual clothing, but seeing him all dressed up like this made her wonder. She rubbed her eyes and yawned. “Mmm..? Galahad..? Are you going somewhere..?"
Six months ago, they were the exact delirious thoughts running through your mind that subsequently led to you lying in hospital the next morning; three needles stuck into the top of your hand, your mother standing outside the door screeching to your father that “there’s no god damn way I am paying for shrink appointments,” and a piece of masking tape slashed across the side of your bed reading in black texter, ‘suicide attempt code 1.’
A blue band, hanging loosely around your wrist, informed you of your name in small print and stated underneath: admitted 09/01/2014. You knew that date. Knew it too well, in fact. The first day of exam week. Not only did the numbers scream at you, but the clock, on the wall on the right of your bed, ticked aggressively to gain your attention. 11:00am. Exactly.
09/01/2014. 11:00am. Your first exam was starting.
And you were sitting in a room that had the same plain white walls and stale air feeling, wearing the expected standard uniform. But it was a hospital that you were situated in, not the examination hall. And your attire was a full length blue gown, rather than your chequered green school dress. God, you were going to fail for sure.
Flashes of bad scenarios zipped in circles around your head. You envisioned your class mates surrounding you as you were crouched on a pavement floor, laughing at you while you clutched ferociously onto a report card that was stamped with a bright red F. Then there was a teacher, sitting at a desk across from you, holding your empty exam paper, steam being pushed from his nostrils as he slowly shook his head and mumbled that you would be needing to repeat the year level. Next, you were being shot at with vicious curses from your parents after they’d hung up from a call with the principal.
With every single thought in your brain, the rate of a monitor’s bleeping sound, on the left of your bed, increased. Turning your head to look at the black screen beside you, you recognised a red line making a variety of mountains and valleys, like it was drawing up its own graph. As the bleeps became faster, the line created higher peaks that were gradually getting closer and closer.
You hadn’t noticed the nurse walk in until her cold hand rested on your cheek and your eyes met her emotionless ones as she spoke in a firm manner, directly to your face, but actually addressing another doctor who had walked into the room, “She’s having a panic attack. Get the sedation.”
Struggles weren’t made by you to escape the sharp injection that stabbed into your arm quicker and more painfully than a bee sting. All of your limbs were completely frozen, and your heart was the only organ still functioning correctly, pounding patently against your rib cage in an attempt to break the bones and tear through your skin. The last things you heard were a shriek from your mother’s lungs echoing around the room and the Nurse’s stern monotone counting down from ten. It was similar to last night, except she seemed to count more correctly than you had, not being under the influence of drugs and all.
“10.. 9.. 8.. 7..”
Despite numerous protests that you made over the next few days to leave the sterilised building and go to school, you were kept hidden and contained in the ward as though you were an animal in captivity. Except you wanting to escape was not rebellious or dangerous for anybody else. In your view, a teenager of your age wanting to complete any educational activity, such as an exam, should be bowed down to, applauded, given a medal. Nobody else in your classes was so dedicated to their work. When you explained the concept to your lifeless nurse, she broke her robotic nature to emit a single “ha,” before confirming blandly, “I think your teachers will understand that in your frame of mind, you can’t be expected to sit tests.”
One full week dragged pensively by before the head doctor conferred with your mother and her hand was dragging your body through the automatic glass doors. Her words were sharp as she slammed her car door shut, “thank God you’re out of that hell hole. Have to take you to the local psycho ward every two days now apparently. I’m only going to be doing that bullshit if you agree not to fucking kill yourself again, yeah?”
Although she was explicitly bitter about the idea, you had still imagined she would be somewhat supportive. You know. Sit in the psychologist’s room with you. Or at least the waiting room.
She just dropped you off out the front of the brick building, however. Stuck her head out the window, yelling to you as she disobeyed the 10kmp/h speed limit, “See you in an hour.”
When you walked slowly in the door and headed on your way to the administration desk, the glares of every other patient followed your path. Some of the people did look sick. Others not so much. But you kept your eyes fixed on the counter that you needed to reach. As soon as you’d made it, you lifted your hands up to rest on the desk and subtly cleared your throat to gain the attention of the woman sitting behind it.
“Yes?” she questioned blankly, her eyes staying focused on the computer screen in front of her.
“I’m [y/n],” you started slowly, part of you was waiting for her to lift her head to look at you, but when she kept her gaze at the document, you took initiative to continue, “I have an appointment with Dr. Rast.”
“The adolescent waiting room is to your left. You don’t need to sign in to me next time,” she sighed wearily, giving the suggestion that you were wasting her time.
Without further ado, you removed your hands from the counter and twisted your body to the left, recognising a cream coloured door holding a sign; Young Adolescent-Care Waiting Room. Scurrying over to the door, ignoring that the other patients were still glaring at you like fresh meat, you turned the doorknob and let yourself in. Allowing your body to slip through the door frame, you were efficient in swinging the door back shut behind you, letting out a gush of relieved breath as the wooden door obstructed the burning glare all of the adults had latched on you.
Swivelling on your heels, your eyes were met with a different atmosphere. The space was smaller, and the walls were covered in bright posters that read overtly positive quotes such as, ‘everyday is a chance to succeed!’ and ‘let your light shine!’ Even the two rows of chairs, lined up against opposing walls were colours of pinks and yellows. You couldn’t remember what colour the chairs were in the room beforehand as there’d been no time to look without feeling abused by the intense stares of the people. This waiting room was better.
Only one other boy was there as well, instead of a variety of people. He’d only looked up at you for a minor second when you walked in, and then awkwardly brought his knees to touch and turned his legs so his body was angled away from you. Bringing his nails up to his face to be chewed at with his teeth, he only made one other nervous glance at you while you sat down in a seat across and a few over from him. Checking your watch, you realised there was still 10 minutes until your appointment.
Immediately, your mind became fogged in with the thought of things you could be doing in this time. There must have been tonnes of school work that you had missed while you were in hospital and should be completing. You were going to fall so far behind. Just like you were feeling your stomach fall now.
“Jaccckkkkkkyyyy,” the roar of another person entering the room snapped you from your thoughts, “didn’t see you all weekend, mate. Almost started to miss you.”
‘Jack’ gave a small and almost invisible smile as the rowdier male slumped into the chair next to him and jabbed his elbow between Jack’s hip and ribs, “you’re looking good, bro.”
Cheeks turning pink, Jack didn’t speak a word. He didn’t seem frightened or annoyed by the invasion of his personal space, but the tenseness you had observed in him when you entered still remained.
“Oh, hey,” the domineering voice greeted you in a softer tone than how he’d acknowledged the other boy, “haven’t seen you before.”
As you switched your view to make eye contact with him, it was as though the two of you were both hit by a truck at the same time. Curly hair being maintained by a thick bandana, t-shirt torn at various places, black jeans gripping to his thighs tighter than a koala to a tree. It was Ashton Irwin.
“The fuck are you doing here,” he spat bitterly as though you had murdered his entire family.
To be frank, this was the first time he had ever spoken to you. Sure, the two of you had been attending the same school for about 10 continuous years, but never had it been appropriate for you to come within a metre of him, let alone have a conversation with him.
“Well?” he questioned after you spent a moment in shock, “Here to be diagnosed for your disease of nerd syndrome?”
You wanted to reply, but didn’t really know what to say. It was probably the first situation you’d ever been placed in where it was up to you to express a comeback. Ashton had picked on a personality trait, so you assumed it was necessary to fire an insult back using the only knowledge you had of him.
“So then you’re here to learn how to deal with conflict like a mature person rather than beating up, or should I say, being beaten up, by every other student at school.”
Too far? You questioned in your own mind amidst the words rolling from your tongue. Deep air soliciting from Ashton’s nostrils and Jack’s wide opening eyes told you the answer. Yes, too far.
With the click of a door at the far end of the room, a short and reasonably round lady appeared, her glasses fallen half way down her nose as she calmly beckoned you into her office, “[y/n], 4:00pm appointment, come in when you’re ready.”
Still dwelling on having witnessed one of the most popular guys from school sitting in a psychologist’s waiting room with you, you barely heard the lady address you while you sat on a couch in her room.
“Did you meet some of the other teens?” she asked, a soft smile on her face while she grabbed a pen and a notepad to rest on her lap.
“Um, yeah,” you stammered, “are they here for appointments too?”
“Yes, there are three doctors, including myself, that spend time with young adolescents. So you’ll probably see those two boys before all of your appointments, and then Ashton will see Dr. Martin and Jack will see Dr. Black.”
Being in her office was initially quite natural feeling. There wasn’t a sense of invasion or discomfort. She seemed polite and asked questions about yourself, your family, your spare time. As you expected, she jotted down a few notes on her paper and left dramatic pauses between your answers and her next questions; similar to the shrink appointments you’d seen in movies.
About 45 minutes into the conversing, however, her questions seemed to be digging past your surface information and into a deeper part of your body. Instead of gently rubbing your back to gain answers, it was as though she was jabbing a needle into your skull until a correct spot was stabbed and could provoke a reply from you.
“What were you thinking about last week, [y/n]?”
“A whole bottle of painkillers is an extreme measure.”
“Were you upset with someone or something?”
“Was that the first time you’d tried to kill yourself?”
“W-what?” you stuttered, the first time you’d spoken in a while, “I didn’t kill myself.”
“[y/n], you were hospitalised for consuming a large sum of medicine which almost caused you to die. Do you remember that?”
“Yes,” you bickered back defensively, “it was an accident. I needed something to help me sleep before my exam and had too many.”
The tension between you reached a boiling point and at the end of your sentence, a timer rang on Dr. Rast’s desk. Slapping the top of the clock, she silenced the ring and changed her inquisitive tone back to the cheerful one she had earlier.
“Great session, [y/n]! I’ll see you Wednesday afternoon!”
Upon exiting the office, and then moving quickly through the better waiting room and the even faster through the intense waiting room, you were met by Ashton standing near the car park. With hands crossed over his chest and sunglasses covering his eyes while he impatiently tapped his foot on the ground, it looked like he had been waiting for you come out for a while. Although you planned to walk past him and directly home as you noticed your mother wasn’t parked anywhere and must have forgotten when you finished, he froze you with his words as you scraped by him.
“Listen up. You don’t tell anyone you saw me here and I won’t tell anyone I saw you here. I only come here because my fucking mother forces me. So deal, right?”
Quite honestly, you felt flustered from the final moments with your doctor and couldn’t be bothered retorting to his words. Nodding your head, you wandered off along the pathway, away from him, and away from the place you were probably going to spending a lot more time at. Behind you, you heard the rev of an engine and a car door clunk open. A polite female voice elicited, “How’d it go, Ash?” but was shut down with a hoarse, “Shit, mum, like always.”
Later that night, your mother received a phone call from Dr.Rast explaining that you should be fine to get back into regular school attending, and she was very excited to see you again on Wednesday. Yet you had anticipated relief to wash over your skin with the news that you could return to classes, it was quite the opposite. Almost like a burdensome jacket had been placed onto you, and was not only making you feel hot and heavy, but also had the affect of clouding the somewhat clearness in your brain.
The first day back was atrocious. Despite arriving at each lesson early and being a responsible student by immediately speaking to teachers about any work you had missed, they all seemed unnecessarily cautious to give you any assignments. And the ones who did catch you up on the work didn’t give you deadlines. You should have considered making a tally earlier on how many times, “if you need help, just let me know” or “no rush to complete it, take your time” was said to you. What they said didn’t really matter that much though, you decided. Tonight you’d do every piece of work handed to you so that you were up to date with every class.
3:30am. Standing by your word, you were still awake, reading and highlighting the notes you missed last week. When you noticed the time, your heart rate increased and your eyes widened. Shocked at how late it was, you became alarmed. Four hours and you had to be awake. You hadn’t slept yet. You’d be tired. Then you’d fall asleep in class. Then you’d miss more content. And get stressed. And fail. And your teachers would get mad. And your parents.
4:30am. And if you can’t even cope with school work, you won’t cope with real life. You won’t get into university. You won’t get a job. You’ll die because you have no money.
6:00am. And it’s all because you’re worthless. You can’t do anything. No smarts. No talents. No friends. No social life. Nothing. Useless piece of society. Disgusting.
7:30am. No concern was solicited from your mum as she trudged into your bedroom door, not acknowledging that you were curled up in a corner, rocking back and forward. Looking insane with your arms wrapped around you as if you were in a straight jacket. All of your energy was being seeped up by your brain, and without realising, you hadn’t blinked in hours. Nor had you slept, even though you felt exhausted and dark grey circles were appearing more and more prominently under your eyes.
She shrieked, “Why aren’t you ready? We’re leaving in ten minutes. You better hurry up.”
Nothing could shake you from the mood you were in. Breathing was difficult enough. But when your mum called out to you down the corridor that if you didn’t move now, you would be late for lesson, you did gain some incentive to move. And surprisingly, after difficulty easing the panic and lowering your distress, you were in a stable enough state to have your dad drop you off at school.
The day went quickly. Nothing too excited occurred. Whether that be because you were micro sleeping during every class or not, you would never know. When Ashton walked past you in the corridor, he didn’t notice that you were there, and he didn’t make a single effort of acknowledgment when he sat in the back row of each classroom; far from you who always occupied the leftist seat of the front desks. It’s funny how the coolest guy in school, who seemed to never have a single worry in the world, ends up going to the same mental institution as you.
You were there by mistake, though, the poor doctor’s thought there was something wrong with you. But there really wasn’t. Even though the thought of skipping the afternoon’s appointment that day did flash through your mind, you decided that you should go. It would be a learning experience for you. To understand how a business like so works. Maybe it could help with you when you reached the Psychology section of your Science course. And parted of you wanted to go so that somehow you could find out what was wrong with Ashton. His parent’s would be forcing him to go for a reason.
As you crept into the building at quarter to four and didn’t make the mistake of speaking to the robotic receptionist at the administration counter, everything seemed to be a simple repeat of two days prior. Inside your designated waiting room was Jack, who was initially sitting straight with his feet planted flat on the floor, but swiftly tilted his knees away from you and used his arms to hug himself as soon as you walked in. Jack was quite skinny, you noticed, while sitting across from the boy. Underneath you, the cushion on the seat squeaked slightly as your behind pushed it into the plastic chair. Involuntarily, Jack twitched at the sound and seemed to enclose his arms into his sides and grip his upper arms tighter than before. He must have been afraid, but it wasn’t like you were planning on hurting him.
Before you could think anymore, Ashton barged through the door, schoolbag slung over his shoulder, and still in his uniform, like you.
“Jack-Jack,” he called excitably, using his fist to hit him playfully on the arm, yet it seemed a bit rougher than the lankier kid could handle, “how fucking early do you get here mate? I’m never able to make it before you.”
For a while, you had to wonder if you were draped with an invisibility cloak. Exactly like in classes, Ashton didn’t look at, or speak, to you. His one-sided conversation with Jack mustered on, although it eventually came down to Ashton having to answer his own questions.
“So where are you going after this session,” Ashton started up, leaving an extensive pause that was well enough time for Jack to reply. It didn’t seem like Ashton was expecting a response, however, because his eyes were focused at a spot on another wall, suggesting he was deep in thought himself. When Jack barely moved except for a slight fiddle of his feet to tuck them further under the chair and out of your sight, Ashton gave his own reply, “I’m probably going to go to the Dallon with some mates. You know, lad? The little park area just off Dallon Street. It’s pretty chilled.”
Ashton’s doctor appeared out of his office first this time and called Ashton in. Chucking his bag on his back, he called out as he was leaving, “Cya Friday, Jacky.”
Instead of completely ignoring this time, Jack lifted his head in the slightest and his lips curved up on the right hand side. No greeting or good bye for you.
Dr.Rast summoned you into her room with a gentle grin on her face. Today, she sat at a different side of the room, but the format of the surveying was all the same. It started off as a slow and gentle back rub. Calming, friendly. Until the masseuse grabs a knife and starts piercing it into your skin and carving up your muscles instead of caressing them.
How are you? How was your day? What did you do? Why was lunchtime the most boring? Is there a reason you have no friends? Do you think about that a lot? What were you thinking about last week, then? No, when you had the accident, [y/n]. What was the critical factor that led you to kill yourself?
Monday appointment; survived. Wednesday appointment; survived. On Thursday and Friday morning, you set your alarm for 4:00am. With three hours before school started, you could already get ahead in study and read forward in your notes. The thought of not understanding a concept during a lesson and falling behind the teacher’s lecture made your lungs feel like somebody was sitting on them. The Friday appointment was the same. Jack cowered away at your entrance, and then Ashton waltzed in like a storm on legs, livening the waiting area, but ignoring you, and then Dr.Rast was a tidal wave that timidly developed over the hour session.
On the weekend, you fried your brain with home work, but had to spend hours of your Sunday writing out a tax return for your parents. They didn’t know how to do it themselves.
After school on Monday you trekked it from the school grounds to the psychologist. How you still made it before Ashton each time surprised you. His mother picked him up and drove him here. So surely a car is faster than your walking feet. Though, he probably gets her to pick him up later so that nobody sees him being driven by his mummy. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, when neither of you had an appointment, he drove his own car to school, meaning he had a license. And meaning that he probably wasn’t joking about being forced to attend the doctors. Yet, he was always in an enthusiastic mood to have a ‘conversation’ with Jack.
Unlike the first week, all three of the doctors stepped out of one of their offices together and beckoned you all into the one room. Although the three of you followed the demands and went into the one office, sitting down on chairs which had been set up in a circular shape, Ashton wasn’t quiet in questioning the authority, “Musical chairs instead of our sessions today? I’m keen.”
Upon sitting down himself, Ashton’s doctor explained, “No actually, Ashton. We’ve come together and decided that it would be really beneficial for you guys to have group therapy instead of singular. You all have your appointments at the same time, and you are all around the same age, so it will be awesome to discuss ideas as a group!”
As he was speaking, Dr.Rast and Jack’s doctor sneakily left the room as if they were trying to cover up that they had just burgled a bank.
“So we’re only having you to counsel all three of us now, I assume?” you asked, raising your eyebrows to the door where the other two had evacuated.
“Yep!” Ashton’s doctor tried to remain positive and was efficient in covering up the recognition of the other two leaving, “Well, let’s get started guys, how are we all?”
Your mind was completely fixated on what the real reason for this would have been. So that the other two psychologists could see new patients and earn more money? Or maybe they couldn’t handle you or Jack so they palmed you off. Dr.Rast probably was frustrated because she couldn’t ‘work you out.’ If only she’d have realised there is nothing to work out.
Ashton seemed to be in complete shock. Since sitting down in his chair, he hadn’t moved a single muscle. Mouth slightly ajar, he’d been staring irately at his doctor, eyebrows slightly furrowed, as if to say; what the fuck mate? Poor jack wasn’t coping very well. Fiddling with the hem of his shirt, he kept taking large gulps as his eyes wandered aimlessly to you and then to Ashton and then to the new psychologist and then to you and then to Ashton and then the new psychologist and over and over and it came off like he was witnessing a tennis match right in front of his eyes.
Without a reply, the older man sat up straight in his seat and cleared his throat, adjusting his tie up closer to his neck as he started, “Okay. So we’re a bit nervous. That’s cool. How about I introduce myself and then we can go around the circle. I’m Dr. Martin, but you can call me John, my first name. I like watching the soccer, and I’m feeling pretty good today, but a little bit tired.”
His eminent grin was a far contrast to the blank expressions of each of your faces who were gaping at him. His eyes drifted to you as he gently asked, “would you like to go next?”
“Um, yeah, sure,” you began quietly but then raised the volume slightly so everyone would be able to hear, “I’m [Y/n]. I’m into most of the subjects I do at school, like Maths and Science, but not English. And yeah I’m slightly tired also.”
“That’s absolutely awesome [y/n],” a burst of enthusiasm rang from Dr.Martin. You weren’t too positive that awesome was the word to describe a bland statement about yourself, but sure, if he was attempting to boost fervour then he can go ahead, “so what’s bad about English then?”
“The literature that we read at school is falsified and unrealistic,” you stated, not planning on elaborating, but he tilted his head as if he expected you to expand on that. “It’s all about love and freedom and joy. And none of that is real. Joy only lasts momentarily until you realise you have to continue with proper life. You know, go to work to make a living or go to school to learn how to go to work to make a living. Freedom is a dream that will never come true because we are confined to extent of our brains and the lifestyles we were born in. We may be free to have a vote for who’s going to rule the country. But then we are only free to the boundaries that the person who rules us allows. And love. That’s just a made up emotion that people believe to cope with reality.”
Jack stopped fiddling. Martin had been frozen like water turning into an ice cube. And Ashton still hadn’t moved from his original position. You sighed, and lifted your arms to cross over your chest as you gazed down at the ground under your feet. A moment passed by before,
“What the fuck, dude,” Ashton stole everyone’s attention, rising from his seat and spitting his words, “why the fuck would you make this a group thing.”
It was only now that you realised how angry Ashton was. His hand has curled up into a very tight ball, the skin on his fingers turning white. Muscles in his biceps were tensing and bulging from his body, and veins were pulsing out of his neck while he spoke gravelly, “don’t fucking tell me one week that I’m making good fucking progress and then fuck me over and put me in a room with these fuckwits. Are you joking me?”
By now, Jack had brought his knees up to his chest and wrapped his lanky arms around them. With his body shivering, you wondered if a tear was about to fall from his welling eyes. You, too, were scared by Ashton’s behaviour. Dr.Martin, surprisingly, wasn’t fazed as he tenderly responded, “Ashton. This has been done for good reasons, and I promise it will help in your recovery. How about you sit down and try out the breathing techniques we talked about.”
A long and heavy push of air was released from Ashton’s nostrils before Jack let out a tiny whimper, causing Ashton to turn his head to him and scream, “SHUT UP.”
Not a single word was solicited for an entire minute.
The only sound was of Ashton’s teeth grinding against each other. When he finally took one step backward and slowly descending down into his seat, you let out your own sigh of relief that you weren’t aware you’d been containing.
“Good work, Ashton,” Martin smiled before facing Jack, who was twitching vigorously, “Now, Jack. Tell us a bit about yourself.”
You were dumbfounded by the mere intensity of the session. By the end of it, you still hadn’t heard a word from Jack’s mouth, and genuine concern had been raised in your mind for Ashton’s jaw, as it had been clenched for the full rest of the hour. When the alarm went off to signal the end of the time, he was the first to stand up and leave the room, tearing the door open so that it slammed against the wall behind it while he threw his bag over his shoulder.
When Wednesday rolled around, you were actually excited. Curiosity encompassed your brain the whole day as you thought about what was going to happen this time. There was no sign of anger still being present in Ashton at school, as he continued to ignore the fact that you both now knew each other.
You smiled at Jack when you entered the waiting room and saw him in his usual position. Less than thirty seconds after you, Ashton slouched through the door. Today, it wasn’t your appearance that made Jack cower away, it was Ashton’s. There was no boisterous punch in the arm or chortled greeting as the curly haired teen entered. Instead, he slowly sat into the seat on the right of Jack, leaning forward as he clasped his hands together and turned his head to the frightened boy.
“Jack,” Ashton began in the softest tone you’d ever heard from him. Jack swivelled entirely so that his back was facing Ashton and his head was hidden. “Jack, I made a mistake on Monday. I shouldn’t have gotten angry at you, and I’m really sorry.”
Little reaction caused Ashton to continue his apology, “I know I called you a fuckwit, but I didn’t really mean that, alright? I was just mad and took it out on you. But I do still love you, okay?”
You noticed Jack gulp before turning his frame around so he faced forward, and then twisted his head so his eyes were facing Ashton.
“Best bros, yeah?” Ashton perked in somewhat desperation, lifting his fist to ask for a fist-bump.
Jack simply nodded and smiled vaguely. Ashton grinned at the positive gesture, using his knuckles to punch Jack softly in the shoulder when he realised the fist-bump wasn’t going to be returned.
Switching his eye sight to look at you, sitting opposite the two of them like always, he spoke a bit firmer and deeper, “Sorry for referring to you as a fuckwit as well, [y/n].”
“It’s okay, Ashton,” you responded, a smile on your face as well. But you were just content with the fact that you’d witnessed a softer side of the boy you’d always recognised as the ‘ferocious piece of rebellion’ at school. You knew there was a reason you were attending these appointments.
The next day at school wasn’t standard. As your English teacher buzzed around the room handing out the marks for your previous assignment, you pushed your hands together and into the gap between your legs to halt them from shaking. Sweat was starting to ooze out of your pores as the teacher dumped the paper onto your desk.
“Not the greatest,” she sighed, “but I’m sure it’s just because you’ve been a bit sick.”
Okay. The first non-A grade you’d received in- in- okay, it was the first non-A grade you’d received. It’s okay. Okay. Calm. Maybe it was a mistake and she handed you somebody else’s work. No. Your name was in the top right corner. It’s okay. She probably just wrote the wrong total mark. No. All the criteria boxes had been marked with B’s. Stay calm. There’s a lot of people in the room. It’s okay. It’s not okay.
“Excuse me,” you rushed, interrupting the teacher mid sentence as she was addressing the whole class, “um-Miss-can I please go to the bathroom?”
The eyes of every single student burned your cheeks red. Your teacher must have felt pitiful for your flustered-ness and quickly replied, “yes, yes, you can.”
Stumbling up from your desk, you grabbed your folders and scattered out of the room and into the corridor. Holding your books so close to your chest that your ribs were almost in pain, you began to stagger up the hall, your eyesight becoming blurry with tears. One blink to clear the vision, and you were lurched onto the ground, your books flying out in front of you and dispersing all over the floor. On your knees, you accidentally permitted a sob to fall off your tongue as you tried to grabble at all your materials.
You didn’t notice it at first, but another hand was picking up some of the papers and placing them in a pile. Glancing up and squinting through the tears, you saw it was Ashton helping you, the lost cause in the hallway. In a state of confusion and complete despondency, you stopped trying to get the folder together yourself and sat back on your heels, rubbing your eyes with your wrist as Ashton did the work for you with an uneasy look on his face.
“Get up,” he commanded steadily once he’d gathered your papers and was holding the folders himself. Forcing your arms to use the little energy they held, you pushed yourself up from the ground. Noticing that you were about to fall down again, Ashton pressed the folder into your chest so you would hold it, and hastily held onto your shoulders so you would stay put.
“You need to calm the fuck down,” he asserted trying to make eye contact with you as your vision floated to anywhere but his face, “Take a deep breath and just relax.”
Breathing shallowly with your chest rising up and down rapidly, you found it difficult to control your lungs.
“God dammit,” Ashton sighed, “I’ll do it with you. Breathe in.”
Sucking in a huge amount of oxygen, he nodded his head and raised his eyebrows at you to beckon you to join. Shakily, you inhaled. Then, in sync, the two of you released the air onto each other’s faces. “Again,” Ashton said, his nostrils flaring as he vacuumed up the air around him. You did the same, this time less shaky than before, and both of your lips formed an ‘o’ as you exhaled.
“Good,” he declared. His thumb was slightly massaging into your shoulder as he spoke tranquilly, “Just chill out a bit. It’s not the end of the world.”
When your breathing had calmed, he removed his hands and walked away back to the classroom without another word. Wiping away at the drops of water than had run down your cheeks, you watched him disappear, and took a second to replay what had just occurred in your brain, before going back into the room yourself. You didn’t want to miss too much of the lecture.
For the rest of the day, you could sense Ashton’s stare on you. Even at lunch, when you were sitting alone at your table, he wasn’t being his usual self. The booming of his voice couldn’t be heard over the top of his disorderly mates, and when you looked over at their unruly table, you saw Ashton sitting on the edge of the bench, silently ogling at you. He didn’t even stop his gawk when you looked at him.
The sessions of group therapy that came were interesting, but not as muddled as the first. Listening to each other and understand the problems you were all facing brought the three of you more closely connected. But it was unusual. It didn’t play out how you imagined. Instead of Dr.Martin being the origin of each of you opening up, it seemed to be each other.
After the corridor freak out, you had felt quite indeterminate in answering questions at the next session. When Dr.Martin asked how your day was, you replied swiftly with a, “not too bad.”
If it weren’t for Ashton butting in and retorting, “really?” Dr.Martin would’ve continued on talking and you never would’ve had the opportunity to vent about how upset you were about your grade.
Even after expression your emotions, when the doctor began to give a professional reply, Ashton overtook the leadership and questioned in fascination, “why does school matter such a shitload to you?”
“Well,” you’d snuffed a little, “I need to do well so I can get good enough grades for university and then get into a good course and get a good job so I can make a living.”
Dr.Martin opened his mouth to talk, but again, Ashton leaned forward, being the one to continue speaking, “Getting a B for one small assignment in one subject isn’t going to be the cause of you being homeless, [y/n].”
Your parents had muttered that to you before when you had had textbooks and notes and paper and folders strewn all over your bedroom prior to a test, but the words actually struck you with impact when they strolled from Ashton’s mouth.
“I-I don’t know,” you stuttered. After a moment of thinking you puffed, “I guess I just feel stupid if I’m not getting good grades.”
Ashton sat back in his chair, as inquisitiveness led you to ask, “How do you manage to just scrape past with C’s?”
“It’s this technique,” he began, a smile creeping over his face, “I like to call it the method of not-giving-a-fuck.”
Jack still didn’t talk at all, but you noticed he didn’t shy away from you when you saw each other anymore. Most of the time, he looked up and gave a quick smile, and you would always greet him with a, “hey, Jack.” Sometimes when you and Ashton were talking, and Martin had given up trying to influence the conversation, Jack would nod if he agreed with something that had been said.
It was an average Friday at school when you realised just how much tighter specifically you and Ashton had become. After staying back in a classroom to speak with a teacher, you hadn’t been able to get into the cafeteria before all of the other students piled in, and you were left to squeeze past all the full tables to make it to the back of the area where your table remained, still empty. The quickest way that you could observe would be to pass by the two popular tables. That was the cheerleading girls, and Ashton’s jock guys. Keeping your head down you kept repeating in your mind to power through, power through, be quick and they won’t look at you. That failed, however.
Snickers left the mouths of the cheerleaders as one of the guys from Ashton’s table stuck his leg out, making you wheeze as your ankle knocked into his and you tripped forward, grabbing onto the first thing in front of you so you didn’t completely fall down. The ‘thing’ in front of you just happened to an arm. A person’s arm. Ashton’s arm. He’d been walking to his seat, and seeing you slip, he’d stuck out his arm for you to grab.
Looking up at him, you were about to say thank you before Ashton spoke first, directing his glare and grave tone to the boy who had tripped you and was chortling in laughter, “the fuck was that for, Matt.”
Stopping his chuckling, he gazed at him, confused at why Ashton wasn’t just laughing along.
“You gonna say something, asshole?” Ashton spat at him, pulling his arm away from you at the same time to hint for you to let go now you were stable and standing.
“Dude,” Matt slurred, “what?”
“Don’t just fucking trip people.”
“I don’t, mate. I trip nerds and fucking losers. And she met both of those points.”
Stepping past you, Ashton raised his hand to clutch onto the other boy’s collar, pulling him up from his seat and getting so close to his body that there was no space between each of their torsos. After a long growl, Ashton pushed words out through his gritted teeth, “You fucking prick. I am going to-“
“Ashton,” you called quickly, before you could realise what you were saying. He didn’t turn to look at you, but you knew that he had heard because he stopped talking and after a few moments, he let go of Matt, who slumped back into his seat, his eyes still wide with fear. The whole table of girls on the other side sat with their mouth open and their eyes filled with perplexity.
One of them jumped up and ran to Ashton’s side, pulling him to sit where she was just seated. Without effort to resist, he was dragged down and she plonked herself onto his lap, bustling, “God, you’re so sexy, Ashton, you look so muscley today.” As her hands rose to stroke his biceps and cheeks, he pushed them back down to her sides, muttering, “really not the time, Rachel.”
Not being able to withstand the pout she put on, you wandered away over to your own table, watching where you were walking this time.
At the group therapy that afternoon, Ashton sat next to Jack and spoke to you before greeting him, like he had already planned in his head that the first thing he would need to do is tell you, “Thank you for lunchtime, [y/n]. If you weren’t there I would’ve done something stupid.”
“I didn’t even do anything,” you laughed softly but Ashton continued.
“No, you did. You brought me back to reality. And I really appreciate it.”
You smiled, not really agreeing, but accepting his gratitude anyway, “Okay. Well thank you for sticking up for me.”
After a moment you realised something yourself, “Hey, Ashton, did I ever thank you for helping me calm down in that English lesson weeks ago?”
“I can’t remember,” he replied casually, “but it’s fine. And maybe we should make this a plan; you help me and I’ll help you?”
You noticed a dimple appear in his cheeks as you nodded to the idea. In the meantime, Jack had been following along the conversation and was all smiles when Ashton finally directed his attention to him.
During the actual group session, an idea sprung into your brain as you watched Dr.Martin scribbling down some notes on a notepad. Gasping, you snapped your head towards Jack.
“Jack,” you embarked, “Would you considering writing down stuff instead of talking?”
“Holy shit,” you heard Ashton murmur under his breath before reaching into his backpack and retrieving a book and pen. Opening it up to a random empty page, he dumped it onto Jack’s lap and slapped him on the back for encouragement. Dr.Martin, Ashton, and yourself sat pensively as Jack took the pen into his shaky hand and angled it so it was only a centimetre away from the paper.
The room filled with a thick sense of tension as the only sound was everybody’s heavy breathing. Eyes were focused onto the pen in Jack’s hand as it crept closer and closer to the page, finally making contact and then, slowly but surely, dragging downward in a stroke to create a single line.
But then Dr.Martin suspended action with his voice, “Okay, I don’t think this is very helpful in supporting Jack’s fight to tal-“
“What?” Ashton roared, cutting him off.
Dr.Martin sighed before continuing, “This excerise is only going to assist Jack in being mute for longer.”
“Are you fucking serious?” Ashton stammered rhetorically, “At least he’s going to speaking out in one way or another. It’s not just about speaking out loud, it’s about communicating all together.”
Despite Dr.Martin holding the palms of his hands up and if to summon Ashton down, he continued to bellow increasingly louder as he boiled with anger. Your mind immediately flashed to what had been said before. Ashton was going to help you, and you were going to help him. Standing up rapidly, you placed your hand on top of Ashton’s, using your thumb to gently rub over his tensely fisted hand. With each stroke, you could feel the bumps of his knuckles and the crests between his bulging veins.
“It’s okay, Ash,” you declared in a composed voice.
The nickname slipped your tongue before you could stop it. You considered covering it up with –ton, so it would just seem like you accidentally stuttered between the Ash- and the –ton, but it was too late. Fortunately, Ashton did instantaneously relax, and the alarm for the end of the session rung. Dr.Martin wasted no time in switching off the timer and galloping behind his desk to gather his items. Somebody was keen for the weekend.
Before the three of you moved to exit, Ashton swiftly manoeuvred his hand around yours so that he had a grip on your smaller hand in his. He squeezed it lightly when he said genuinely, “thank you.”
Outside the building, after you and Jack had stuck behind the much broadened and confident Ashton when leaving through the scary adult waiting room, Ashton posed a question to the two of you, “So, we three should hang tomorrow.”
Jack turned his head to look at you for an answer. “Oh,” you puffed, shocked by the question, “you do realise it’s a Saturday? Don’t you want to hang out with your own group of mates?”
“Nah,” Ashton sighed, “you two are my real mates.”
Jack’s gaze fell to the ground but the sunlight helped you to see the shade of pink his pale cheeks were turning while he smiled. It looked like a snowman being given life. You had to admit to yourself that that was the first time in a while that you’d been named someone’s mate. When you agreed to the plan, Jack nodded his head, almost so speedily that you thought it would snap off.
After a little discussion, Ashton asked for your phone so he could put in his contact and you could text him your address. Slipping it out of your pocket, you handed it to him, hoping he either wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t say anything about the lack of contacts beside ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ in your address book.
Running the final two steps up your porch and into your house, you sprinted down the hallway and collapsed onto your bed, raising the phone with both of your hands into the air. On the walk home, all you had been contemplating was how you were going to message him. The first thing you saw when you unlocked your screen was his contact name and number underneath.
Slapping your hand across your mouth when you saw the nickname you’d used earlier, you lost grip of the phone in the other hand and it clumsily dropped onto your face. Instead of weeping in pain, you just laughed and rolled over on your quilt so you were lying on your stomach as you typed. Although you only sent a smiley face in the first text, Ashton sent back an ‘x’ with his. Not wanting to feel annoying or clingy, yet your mind was already clinging to the thought of him, you didn’t send another message after your street address has been sent for the purpose of tomorrow.
Saturday morning, the sun and breeze outside were warm and welcoming, but inside your house a storm had been brewing for hours. Your mum and dad had been shrieking profanities at one another since you woke up. Well, in fact, they woke you up with the shouting. But you’d attempted to ignore it and had begun reading a section from your Maths textbook to pass the time.
Pythagoras theorem is the study of a certain type of Geometry. It is a type of Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle. It states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle)-how are we going to afford this damn bill-is equal to the sum-wellif you didn’t lose you’re fuckingjob- of the squares of the other-fucking hell if we hadn’t have had a fucking child-two sides. The theorem can be written as an equation-for fucks sake-relating the lengths of the sides a, b and c, often called the Pythagorean-and why don’t we just get a fucking divorce then.
It got to the point where you had to clamper your hands over your eyes to suppress the hollering from the other rooms in the house. You didn’t even realise Ashton pull up. He’d sent you a quick text message, ‘hey, I’m out the front,’ which made you hastily snatch your bag and phone and run out the front door. With your speed in leaving the house, he didn’t have time to get out from his driver’s seat and open the door for you, but you didn’t notice anyway.
Once you were both strapped in and on the road, he turned the radio down to the lowest volume and kept his eyes on the road while he asked, “are you alright, [y/n]?”
“Yeah,” you responded efficiently, your brain clenching with the thought that he might have heard your parents.
He gave a little pause before beginning again, “my parents are pretty dysfunctional, too, you know.”
For some reason, you didn’t start hyperventilating like you always assumed you would if somebody discovered your family problems. Staying silent, you listened to Ashton as he persisted explaining, “my dad is just a wanker to me. And my mum, well, she just ignores it and tries to block out his insanity.”
Unsure of whether he wanted to say more, you remained quiet, but he didn’t continue, so you took initiative.
“Both of mine seem to have lost control of their lives,” you sighed softly, “they can’t keep up with bills or their jobs or their relationship. My entire residence is just a mess.”
Again, Ashton allowed a hiatus before mustering up, “Do you think that’s why you have so much control?”
“You know, you always need to be in control of your assignments at school. And your general grades. And I’m sure you always probably try and take responsibility with the problems at home too. Maybe it’s because they have so little control, you feel like you need to have a lot for your life to be better.”
As you let yourself sink into the leather seat and you leant your head back to rest on the head-rest, you watched out the side of the window. Ashton had a point. You were obsessive with school work and did have to do things, like sorting out the tax, for your parents. So he was more than likely right. But it surprised you that you didn’t automatically turn stubborn and defensive, like you would’ve if anyone else had brought up that notion with you.
Not long later, the car slowed out the front of a house. No, a mansion. A legitimate mansion. White walls, three stories, an underground car park, pillars supporting the roof. Ashton laughed at your reaction to the place. You’d put your hands up like paws onto the window, gazing out like an excited puppy seeing its owner out the glass.
“That was my exact reaction when I came here for the first time,” he muttered before un-clicking his seatbelt and turning off the engine, “you have to come up and meet his mum, she’s so nice.”
As you took of your own seatbelt and hustled out the door and up the steps to the front door with Ashton on your side, you couldn’t help but gape at the extremity of the building. Ashton’s fist knocked on the door, and while you waited for someone to answer, he watched you as you stared up unbelievably at the high roof.
“I like your outfit today by the way,” he uttered, giving you no time to response as a tall, thin blonde woman opened the door and immediately smiled at the sight of Ashton.
“Ashton!” she cried, embracing him in a hug which he returned, “it’s so good to see you back.”
After introducing herself to you, she motioned for the two of you to come in, but Ashton stopped her and asked politely, “actually, ma’am, we were thinking of going out today, if you didn’t mind us stealing Jack for a few hours.”
She gushed at the idea, her bright white teeth quite overwhelming. You wondered in your head how many times Ashton went over to Jack’s house, but decided not to ask. Yelling up to Jack, who must’ve been upstairs, she continued to ask generously if you wanted something to drink or if Ashton needed petrol money, but he refused and you ensured you were fine. When Jack stepped down the incredible wide and long staircase, he waved at the two of you and then rubbed one boney arm with his opposite hand nervously.
The rest of the day was amazing. Ashton drove you, who sat in the front passenger seat, and Jack, who wanted to be in the back, down to a beach which allowed cars to drive along it. Thankfully, Ashton’s car was sturdy enough to drive along the sand, and the three of you travelled miles and miles along the deserted beach. With the windows down, your hair blew in the breeze, and when Ashton and you looked back in the rear view mirror, you could see lightweight Jack bouncing up and down as the wheels fell into certain ditches.
The utter serenity of it all was perfect. Sounds of waves crashed up near the car as it sped along the shoreline, and the salty smells of the water drifted in one window and out another. Although you were entranced by the beauty of the landscape, the never ending white sand laid out in front of you, and the vast green ocean on your right, Ashton was completely entranced by you. He watched as you stared out into the distance. He watched as you stuck your arm out the window and then moved your fingers to look like a wave as they pushed through the atmosphere. He watched as you then turned your head around, biting your lip and giggling as you noticed he was observing you. But then he still continued to watch as you closed your eyes and inhaled deeply, taking in all of the tranquil surroundings, the undisturbed world around you.
Eventually he slowed the car, and jumped out, pounding around the front of the bonnet to get to your door and pull it open for you. Grinning stupidly, you stepped out the door and let him close it behind you. Shoving his head in the space of the window, he asked Jack, “you wanna come out buddy?” The furious shake of his head indicated a no, and you and Ashton raced each other to the water, pulling off your shoes and socks on the way.
From Jack’s point of view, it was a typical movie scene. The two of you laughed and playfully bumped into each other. Your hair blew attackingly into your face, and you had to blow it out of your mouth while Ashton poked fun at you. You scampered away when your toes hit the ice cold sea, and Ashton had no choice but you pick you up with his strength and carry you in. It was all a little chaotic, but the exuberance couldn’t be mistaken. When he cupped his hands under the shallow water and hitched it up into the air to splash you, you squealed and had no choice but to splash him back. Jumping over the tiny waves that passed by, you were both a united, sniggering, immature mess.
And then typically, you both, kind of, had that moment where you stopped time. Well, you stopped worrying about time. Knee deep for you, but only calf deep for Ashton, you stood still in the water, facing each other, only a tiny space between your chest and his, just revelling in the overall content of the situation. God knows how long you were standing there, gawking aimlessly at one another. Even Jack was too caught up in the scene, taking place in front of him, to care about the time. It was just… wonderful.
Just the water.
The fresh air.
The sand under your toes.
Now that Ashton had your number, the text messaging really began. After he had gotten home after dropping you off after the beach day, you never really stopped. The efficiently in your replying meant that quick conversations were easy and you managed to talk about a variety of things in a small amount of time. Speaking about absolutely anything, you began to learn a lot about each other, and what each other did in spare time. Even at school, during lunches and in classes, when you two were in the same vicinity, you would be texting. One break-time in the cafeteria, he sent you a message
I wish I was sitting with you and not here…
You looked up from your phone and noticed Ashton glaring right at you from the other side of the building.
Why do you hang out with them then?
Watching his face crease up at the text, he took a significant amount of time to reply.
Idk. Once you’re in this friendship group, you’re kind of just in. I think it’d be dangerous if I opted out.
Still, even though he spent all of his time with the loud, unruly group of teenage boys and sometimes the flirtatious, stick-figure cheerleaders, he never hesitated in defending you when he had to. They all quickly got the hint, though, and avoided bullying you at all costs.
At your psychologist sessions, Dr.Martin didn’t even bother anymore. Never failingly, Ashton and you struck up your own conversation, and it always got fairly deep within a matter of minutes. You were able to support each other through any difficulties. You didn’t need anyone else. And if Jack ever seemed intriguingly shy or ever reached a new level of introversion, the two of you made it your aim to list off as many jokes as you could master to cheer him up.
As each therapy concluded, Ashton would drive you home so that you didn’t have to walk. Nonchalantly in the car one afternoon, you brought up a question of why his mum no longer dropped him off and picked him up. Reaching his arm past the gear stick, he rested his huge hand on your thigh and left it to imperturbably linger there as he replied, “she doesn’t have to force me to go anymore. I like going because you’re there.”
Later that night, Ashton dropped various comments that made your heart beat so aggressively, you could feel it in your throat.
You know, I don’t have many angry episodes anymore now that I’ve got you in my life
I don’t really stress out like a nutso anymore now that you’re always there to calm me down
Touche. I mean it though. And you looked gorgeous today by the way.
Lol I was in school uniform Ash…
And yet you still looked stunning baby
Having someone call you baby incurred the exact symptoms of one of your panic attacks, which, with Ashton’s previous help, you’d managed to admit to actually be ‘panic attacks.’ But it was a completely different feeling, really. The stuff clogging up your brain didn’t feel like a threatening, evil cloud anymore. It was more like crisp air. And it wasn’t just in your brain, it was all over your body, and it tickled your insides, in a good way.
Ashton was perfection. You wanted to talk to him today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the next week. And then next month. And the next year. And then next century. That’s why when he messaged you mid way through a maths lesson saying
I’m bored. Wanna wag? X
You couldn’t turn down the offer. Months ago you wouldn’t have had your phone turned on in class at all. But now it didn’t matter. You were a different human being. With Ashton, you found that sometimes you just need to live a little. You can’t let yourself get caught up on silly things.
Laughing and cheering brashly, the two of you ran from school premises, wasting not a single fragment of time to tumble into Ashton’s car and drive away. Intertwining your fingers above the centre console of the car, you let the radio be turned to full blast as an old song came on and the two of you belted the lyrics at the top of your lungs before convulsing in giggles. Tugging at your hand which was clasped in his, he pulled it upward to his mouth, giving it a soft kiss. Slouching down, you kicked your feet up onto his dashboard and let your body loosen up while he drove you away, and you were driven away into a slumber.
A few hours later, you woke to the sensation of fingers being run gently along the part in your hair. With a heart beat pounding against your back, and a thick warm arm being tucked around your waist, you had no desire to move, but you opened your eyes to scrutinise your surroundings. Ashton must have placed you on the bonnet of his car, in his lap, when you were asleep, and it was parked at the top of a hill. There, in front of your eyes, was the whole city. Tall and skinny buildings, short and fat buildings, parklands, roads, houses, lakes. Bright orange and almost blinding, the sun was slowly falling down behind the extravagant setting.
Noticing you rustle slightly in his arms, Ashton posed, “beautiful, isn’t it?”
“Mmm,” you hummed in response, “Was I asleep for a long?”
Placing his chin on the top of your head, he smiled, “A few hours, baby.”
A while later, after you’d taken in the bustling town below you, but also the quietness and tranquillity of the plain hilltop land around you, you said, “You really like little secluded spots like this, don’t you?”
His chin moved up and down on your scalp as he nodded, “yeah I do. They’re just a better reality than anywhere else.”
Although you knew what he meant, he still chose to elaborate, “do you remember in that first group therapy and you said something about joy and freedom and love. And that they’re all not real?”
Gulping, you choked an inaudible, “yeah,” realising only now how pessimistic that was.
“Well, I think you’re right,” Ashton started, making you frown until he persisted, pointing at the world taking place below you, “It’s too hard in a crazy world, like that, to have time for any of those things. I don’t feel free, or happy, when I’m stuck at school or home. I just get angry at everything and don’t care about a single thing. But when I’m with you it’s different. With you I start to care again. Mainly care about you. But I also just can’t get mad because I’m conscious of upsetting you and, well, what is there to be mad about when the most gorgeous girl in the world is with me. And then when we get away from everything it’s even better again. I-I t-think, well, I’m pretty sure, that I feel love as well. I think I love you, [y/n].”
With no idea how you were going to respond in words to that, you turned your body around so you were on your hands and knees and did the only thing you could think appropriate. You smashed your lips onto his. All the building emotion and passion was released as he joined the kiss and started moulding his lips onto yours. Softly putting his hands on your hips, you began getting lost in the infatuation, your noses touching and a whimper leaving your throat while he grazed your bottom lip with his teeth. While the sun fully disappeared, lights gradually flickered on all over the city backdrop; as though the town was brightening up with cheers at your new found love.
On the ride home, neither of you could stop the now permanent hunger for each other. Especially you. This was the first time any man had ever taken an interest in you, and you wanted to indulge in Ashton as much as you could. He could feel your stare on him for the entire trip, but knew better than to turn his head and look at you, because every time he did, he would become desperate to kiss your soft lips. Twice he had to pull over and put the engine into park so he could quickly unbuckle his seatbelt and lean over, grasping both of your cheeks in his hands and attacking your face with his own.
The good-bye was probably the most difficult thing you’d ever had to do in your life. Out the front of your house, still in the car, you had somehow gotten onto Ashton’s lap in the driver’s seat and were lapping him up like he was your last supper. His hand had taken to holding your ass while your legs wrapped around the seat, and your hands were getting tangled in his curls.
“Am I a bad kisser?” you mumbled over his plump lips, “you’ve probably had so many other girls th-“
“No, baby, you’re amazing,” he hastily assured, letting his teeth nibble gently across your cheek to your ear while he rambled, “so amazing. So beautiful. So sexy.”
Your cheeks shined red at the last comment. That was a first. Despite smirking against your skin, something made him then pull his head away from you, “You should probably go, babe, or I won’t be able to stop.”
Pulling at the door handle, he lifted his thigh under yours to imply for you to hop out. Following the request you stood out of the car and whispered quietly, “I love you.”
“I love you too, sexy,” he commented and gave you another tiny peck on the lips before you turned your back and began to walk up to your porch. Like a gentleman, he ensured you were in safely before he chugged away down the street, a grin staining his face.
The next day at school, you weren’t exactly positive what to expect. Was Ashton going to hang out with you during classes and breaks now? Or would this ‘thing’ you now had going be for private time only? You didn’t mind either way. In fact maybe it could be fun to keep it as a little secret. The popular kid with the nerdy girl. Who’d have thought? And who’d have thought it would start at a psychologist?
When he didn’t turn up for the first lesson, you assumed that he was just late. Eyes attached to the door with an invisible thread, you waited for his entrance. The lesson began and he still wasn’t there. Were his douche bag friends here, you wondered, glancing towards the back of the room. No. They weren’t. So he must have been doing something idiotic with them to be so late. About half way through the teaching, you gave up thinking that he would come. In your head, you painted a mental picture of him looking at his watch and realising it was too late to bother turning up.
But Ashton never came at all.
It got to lunchtime, and he still wasn’t there. Some of his mates had turned up, and looked to be enjoying the lunchtime more than usual as the cheerleaders were forced to loiter around and submit their attention towards them with the absence of Ashton. Matt, the boy you learnt the name of the other day, also wasn’t there. Bored without having Ashton to stare at, you sent him a questioning text.
Where are you? Haven’t seen you all day :* :* x
When an insult is received, or you hear news of something awful, the pain is immediate. Anybody would suppose that that was the worst kind of pain; hard-hitting and shocking. But you learnt over the course of the day that it wasn’t. The worse pain is the lingering sort, when you’re unsure of something. It’s not dire enough to be slapping you in the face, but it’s bad enough to be able to feel it’s burden constantly. This was the pain you were feeling when Ashton failed to reply. Not just at lunch. But in the lesson after. And the lesson after. And when you sent another message
Please reply Ash, I’m worried x
He still ignored.
It’s okay, you told yourself. You’re okay. Calm down. Focus on the schoolwork. Looking down onto your desk, you wanted to be able to say you could see your textbook and your notebook, but you couldn’t. It was all just a blur. Maths. This was your best subject. And you couldn’t even read a question because your heart was knocking bruises into the side of your brain and the throbbing was proceeding all over your body. The demonic cloud that came along with your panic attacks was beyond misting up your insides, and it was at the point of strangling each organ.
“[Y/n], what would the answer be?” your teacher’s voice could just be heard through the haze.
Flicking your head up, you barely made out that not only was your teacher glaring at you while pointing to an equation on the board, but so was every student in the room.
It’s okay. Stay calm. Calm. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Remember how Ashton helped you last time? Ashton. Oh God.
“[Y/n]? Are you going to answer me?”
Darting away from your desk, you raised your hands up so they would hit the door before you and then pull the handle so you could evacuate. You were incorrect in thinking that once you were away from the classroom, fresh air would fill your lungs and assist you in relaxing. It wasn’t your surroundings that were causing this attack. It was you. Struggling for air, you scampered down the hallway, accidentally knocking your shoulders into sharp corners of lockers and scraping the soles of your feet on the way. Your jelly legs directed you into the bathroom, where your flimsy hands grasped onto the sides of the sink, shaking so violently and tensely that the basin almost tore away from the wall.
In front of your stood a huge mirror, and instead of reflecting a human, it reflected a list of imperfections. All you could recognise was flaws. An awfully shaped face. Blotchy skin. Blemishes. Greasy, strewn hair. Fatty components covering every bone. How embarrassing that you allowed yourself, such a revolting person, to be so jovial last night.
Spit was clogging up in your mouth and almost started dribbling over your lips as you shattered into a weeping and blubbering mess. It felt like knives were poking at your tear ducts and it was only a matter of time before dense tears spilt out of your eyes and shook down your cheeks. That demonic fog was now scratching down all of your limbs, tearing apart at your muscles, assaulting your legs and arms. Burning up inside of you was a desire to fight back, and the glint of the bathroom light onto a sharp, broken edge of the mirror answered your prayers.
As if in a trance, you traced your finger along the ragged corner of the metal, gently at first, but then increasing harder so that it turned red fingertip white. Trembling, you then pushed your palm and fingers back so your wrist became entirely exposed, and gradually pushed it closer to the mirror. Shutting your sore eyes tightly, you struck your wrist against the roughness and watched, through dizzy vision, as bright red liquid seeped out, dripping onto the floor and trickling down your arm.
It didn’t hurt. There was no sting or twinge. Your body had become numb and stuporous. This mental fog had taken over and instead of relaxing to the attack on your wrist, it enraged further and all you considered doing was grating your skin again. More. More. More. More. Your brain was yelping. Before you knew it, you were shredding away at your skin, rubbing it erratically against the razor-sharp metal and becoming unable to distinguish the gash area while it filled and covered completely in red blood.
Soon, chirpy chatter of girls coming near the bathroom sunk into your ears. In a panic, you removed your wrist and arm, using your opposite hand to buttress your elbow as you dashed into the closest cubicle, fumbling around with your quivering and sweaty hands to close the lock. While the female voice got louder and louder, the opaque miasma in your head oozed away slowly. An ache coated your mind, as the blur cleared and you drifted back into the world. Then, your arm began to hurt profusely. The pain really snuck in and your wrist screamed at you as it scorched in agony.
After finding pain killers and wrapping your arm tenderly in toilet paper and tissues, the only items that were within reach, you put on your long sleeve jacket, which was thankfully in your bag, and rushed off to your 4:00pm appointment. Entering your waiting room, you locked eyes immediately with Jack. He must’ve noticed the red rawness around your pupils because his mouth fell slightly open while you sat across from him.
“Hey Jack,” you sighed, trying to make a cheerful tone so it would cover your sad appearance. He didn’t smile at you, like usual. His eyes just stared, almost apologetic.
Looking also wretched as hell was Ashton when he entered the room. Avoiding contact with you, he strained his eyesight to the floor below him and only mumbled a hushed, “Sup Jacky.”
You noticed immediately the differences in him. His hands were dug into his pockets instead of out and hitting Jack teasingly. His banter was non-existent. And his posture was contained and uptight instead of eased.
When Dr.Martin opened his office door, he was surprised that he wasn’t interrupting a conversation, as normally you and Ashton would’ve already been drowning deep in waters of discussion. Standing up, the three of you began to wander into the doctor’s room. Ashton was the first in and you watched as he quickly pulled his hand from inside his jeans to push the door further ajar so he could walk through.
Yet you were certain he was attempting to hide it, the lacerations on his knuckles didn’t go un-noticed by you. Wounds on his hands? That explains where he was today then. As everybody sat down without a word, Dr.Martin got concerned, thinking he might have to actually do some talking and work in today’s session, but you decided to speak up.
“What are the gashes from?”
Your words were directed to Ashton as he continued to stare at the ground around his shoes. Hostility filled the room.
“Ashton, why are your knuckles bruising?”
As much as you wanted you continue being stern and authoritarian, you just couldn’t push down the heart inside of you that was yearning to help him in what looked like immense despair.
“Ash, are you okay?” your voice cracked.
Instantly, his head rose and you saw a small cut near his left eye, “I’m fine, baby. I’m just sorry.”
Seeing the lack of expression in his face, you became even more sorrowful yourself, blinking a few times to ensure you weren’t going to cry over his sadness, “don’t be sorry. Tell me what happened.”
Exhaling loudly, he told you, “Before school I was just with the guys. And I don’t know. Matt was just really frustrating me with a few rude comments. You were already in class, I think, and I couldn’t run off to you, so I just lost it. And half way through, I just thought about what you would be thinking if you saw me doing this. You’d be scared out of your mind. So I stopped and let him beat me up instead. Then, I just went home. I would’ve felt so guilty if I saw you at school, knowing I’ve gone backward in recovery while you’re doing so well.”
“Ash,” you stopped him, pushing your hands into your thighs, “I screwed up today, as well.”
His eyes widened at the comment, looking even more poignant than before, as he cooed, “what happened, honey?”
Unable to put it to words without being too graphic, you started rolling up a sleeve, only to have Ashton mutter, “fuck,” and then rush over to you, wrapping his arms around your waist and pulling you up to stand in an embrace with him.
Kissing the top of your head repetitively, he mumbled words between your sobs into his chest, “you’re so perfect, sweet heart, you don’t need to hurt yourself, okay? What if this ended badly? You can’t leave me alone, baby. Even today, I lost it when I wasn’t with you.”
“I know, I know,” you sniffed with your words muffled by his top, “I need you too. Don’t leave me alone at school. It’s practically the same as deserting me in hell.”
A little laugh left his mouth before he swallowed and held onto your shoulders, turning to talk to Dr.Martin, who was biting his nails, suffering immensely from the waterworks, “do you mind if we piss off early today?”
Opening his hand to gesture to the door, in a ‘be my guest’ way, the doctor could only watch as Ashton touched your back gently to lead you out the room. Jack stood up hastily and jogged a little to catch up as the two of you walked, your head rested on Ashton’s shoulder, out of the building, ignoring the stares of others.
With Jack sitting in the back, Ashton drove the way to Jack’s house, his free hand caressing your thigh lightly and his head turned every so often to make sure you were okay in the passenger seat.
“Jack, we’re coming in man,” Ashton stated, as he pulled up in front of the royal home, “our households suck and we need somewhere.”
No hesitation was made from the reticent boy in the back as he jumped out the car and bounced proudly up to his house, opening the door wide for the two of you to step in, and then directing you straight to a bathroom and opening the door to a medicine cupboard. Sighing Ashton patted the empty space of the counter next to the sink, signally for you to sit. Immediately as you did so, his large and warm hand attached back soothingly to your thigh. Jack rummaged through the cupboard, pulling out metres of bandages and other various cloths.
You just sat and observed as they both worked together to undress what you had placed on your arm. Ashton had to take deep breaths as he took in the horrific cuts and slashes around your wrist. He shook his head a few times and tried to do something, but in the end he was just rubbing your arm and leg soothingly as Jack was cleaning and re-covering the wounds. You wondered if he had to help himself often and that’s why he knew so well what he was doing. Hopefully not.
“Shhh, baby, it’s okay,” Ashton purred when you squeezed your eyes at Jack’s touch, “you’re okay. I love you.”
Once you were done with, you forced Ashton to sit where you had been so you could deal with his wounds, although they seemed to have already been healing well during the day. Rolling his eyes, there wasn’t much he could do but smile and let his dimples shine while you ran his hands under cold water and then kissed each knuckle individually.
Later, you all went and laid down in Jack’s bed, a King size, with at least five layers of puffy white quilting. Ashton and you had your heads on the pillows on the correct end of the mattress, while Jack relaxed reversely, his feet in between the two of your faces. There was a nice peace floating around the three of you as you un-winded together.
Everything was quite still when Ashton testified, “we’re all a little bit mental, aren’t we?”
Grunting faintly at the comment, you sighed, “yeah, I guess.”
Blissful silence settled like a good type of dust in the bedroom. Nothing else needed to be said.
But after a minute of hush, a voice croaked, squeaked and piped, all at the same time.
“If it means I can be friends with you, then I like being mental.”
You and Ashton gasped, scattering impulsively to sit up and look at the boy, who had his eyes rested closed, both hands propped as a pillow underneath his head and his bottom lip being chewed in his teeth.
“And by the way, I’ve already decided I’m going to be the best man and maid of honour at your wedding.”
[WARNING: HEAVY SPOILERS FOLLOW] Despite my original trepidation concerning this film and its concepts, I was surprised and deeply touched by what ended up being a poignant and nuanced story of life; both inside and out.
Jeller + "I'm afraid for the first time in my life"
“I’m scared,” she whispers as they pull deeper into the dark corridor. “Well, that’s a first,” he says, his warm breath hitting her forehead as she turns to face him.
“That’s not funny,” she says, “what are we going to do? Kurt, we have no way out.”
Kurt looks around him, analysing their location and then back out. “I don’t know,” he says. He huffs, glancing out once more and realising for the hundredth time that their only exit is impossible to access without being seen.